Alternative Flash Servers Follow H.264 Path

As the popularity of Flash player video delivery increases, fueled by Adobe's support for the H.264 video codec and the release of the Flash Media Server 3 family of streaming servers, two alternative servers that have also been growing in popularity continue to add features to keep pace.

One of those alternatives, the Wowza Media Server Pro, staked a claim last week as the first Flash media server to support live H.264 encoding using, as Wowza puts it, "readily available H.264 encoders that support standard RTP/RTSP protocol." While the server won't be available for final release until April, the preview version has already begun to create interest. The Wowza Media Server Pro 1.5.0 preview release is available for download from the company's website and, according to the company's press release, has been tested for interoperability with Apple QuickTime Broadcaster, Vara Software Wirecast, and HaiVision SD and HD hai1000 series network video system. The last encoder mentioned, from HaiVision, is a high-definition H2.64 encoder, which means that Wowza also has provided a path to live HD H.264 streaming.

Not to be outdone, the team at Red5, makers of the Red5 Server--another alternative Flash server--have also announced their intentions to put H.264 into their product.

"Red5, or more specifically, our team member Paul Gregoire, is working on the h.264 support," said Chris Allen in a February 14 post on FlashComGuru. "We are releasing Red5 0.7 today or tomorrow, and the h.264 stuff will follow soon thereafter in 0.7.1."

One of the reasons that alternative Flash servers have found a footing was Adobe's previous pricing policy for Flash Media Servers. Along the way, though, these alternative servers began to add features that appealed to certain content delivery networks and broadcasters. So, while the pricing on the Flash Media Streaming Server has fallen to the same price as the Wowza Media Server Pro ($995) the market for alternative servers has not completely disappeared.

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